Listening to: Bach
Reading: next on TBR
Daughter has a ‘Roman’ day today at Norwich Castle, as part of the class's topic work. She’s looking forward to learning how to make a torc. And their packed lunch is meant to be as close to authentic Roman food as possible.
Daughter is in my office, scanning my bookshelves. ‘You’ve got a book on Roman cookery.’ Ye-es. ‘So we could make honey cakes, if there’s a recipe in there.’ OK, ma petite, we'll do that. (Thinks: uh-oh, deadline. Thinks: work late rather than disappoint my child.)
Now, does this request come on Monday or Tuesday, so I can have the necessary ingredients delivered with my weekly shop on Wednesday morning? No. It comes yesterday morning. (Rolls eyes. Must teach children about planning ahead.)
Luckily I was waiting for my ed’s comments on how I intended to fixed French Duo 2, so I had time to go through the book and pick out half a dozen possible recipes. (Some were - how shall I put it? - interesting. Did you know that placenta is actually a cheese and pastry pie? Similar to the Greek tyropitakia. But this is a case where I'd rather not know the name of what I was eating...)
Anyway, while we were waiting to pick up son, daughter went through the pages I’d marked with a post-it and decided to make Honey Cake (enkhytoi) and Poppy Seed Biscuits (laterculi). Was quite relieved that she decided not to do the one with spelt flour as Sainsbury’s didn’t have any, and as it was only 2 degrees and very wet I wasn’t in the mood to trek to Waitrose. Barley flour was a complete no-no (think I’d have to get that online from a specialist). And finding wheat flakes… not the processed stuff, the healthy stuff. You’d think the local health food shops would sell it, wouldn’t you? But then it meant six hours soaking in honey… and time wasn’t on my side. Much as I love my daughter, I am not going to be baking at 11pm. I am a lark. I stop talking sense after 10pm.
The honey cake had very simple ingredients: eggs, honey, flour. But it took a long, long time to whisk eggs and honey by hand until it was very thick and fluffy! (And my arms really ache this morning, including muscles I may have forgotten I had.) This is the result. (And, despite son's assertations, this was not burned and it did not sink - it's meant to be flattish and there's a lot of dark runny honey in there, hence the colour.)
The poppy seed biscuits were an interesting concept – a pastry shell filled with ground almonds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and honey. I was expecting the filling to be stickier, so deviated from the recipe a tad to make it slightly stickier (and therefore easier to put inside the pastry shells).
I thought they were a bit dry (owing to the wholemeal flour, perhaps), but I could imagine children soaking them in honey, or bored matrons dipping them in whatever the Roman equivalent of Madeira was. (There are at least two historical novelists I’m expecting to come here and comment, being Very Wise Women who know about such things.)
Dear, lovely ed: this is why I haven’t actually got any further than thinking about fixing the book, but it will be with you on Monday morning, because I have a photoshoot at lunchtime for my very exciting bit of PR. Please note that I have moved lunch with my friend today, so instead of skiving off and talking books and eating banned substances (whimpers at thought of garlic dough balls) I am chained to my desk and being a Very Good, Hardworking Author...